As the new year gets underway, many of you will be thinking about how to set a new course for this next trip around the sun. The cyclic rhythm of our planetary bodies allows us a time to pause at this new year threshold and reflect on changes we would like to make for our own bodies and lives. Whether you want to set new intentions for your physical health, mental health, your general attitude or make specific changes to your relationships, your creativity or your work, the general rules remain the same: Keep it simple, seek support, do it regularly.
Simplicity is Key
I have many clients coming into the clinic at this time of year knowing that they need to get ‘back on track’. Holidays and the excesses of Christmas and New Year can take their toll on our bodies and vitality! Too much alcohol can leave us dehydrated, liverish, grumpy and moody. Too much of what doesn’t suit you– sugar, dairy, gluten, BBQ fare- whatever it is for you personally– can also make you bloated, tired and unhappy. For many clients it’s simply about ‘re-setting’- reminders about what suits them and how to get back into a good rhythm. Good sleeping, good eating, good exercise, good hydration, and encouraging them to find ways to bring the ‘relax mode’ of holidays into their regular working week.
Re-setting is a perfect opportunity to bring something new into that regular rhythm of the day or week. Keeping goals realistic and bite-sized is a sure way to succeed. Instead of going from no exercise to daily running, start with finding time for it once or twice a week. Over many years of working with people to achieve their health goals, I have found that 3 is truly a magic number. 3 things to change at a time. Any more than that can get overwhelming. Less is fine, but most of us have a few things we want to work on!
Simple: A list of 3 that can go on your fridge or your mirror or your computer. This can be a gentle reminder every day or many times a day about what your intentions are.
For example, here is my list for this year:
- Increase swimming to twice weekly (once a week has been awesome, time to shift it up!)
- Regular dates with my partner- monthly (we have been immersed in parenthood, time for some reconnection!)
- Hill walks with a friend (a triple win- nature time, walking time and girlfriend time!)
This may seem very uninspired to some of you! But that’s just it- its personal. I’m not a radical change-maker, I’m more like the tortoise- slow and steady wins the race. I’ve seen how small changes are sustainable, and can be built upon, organically, brick by brick, into a solid structure for a new and better version of your life.
Who can help you achieve your goals? A naturopath could help you get to the bottom of those gut symptoms, a personal trainer could help you work out a fitness programme, a good friend could help keep you accountable to yourself if you wanted to start writing or painting. Would a class help? A course? A book? Who can help support you? For support for my list, I’m telling my partner, seeking out regular babysitting, calling up about pool membership, and getting my walking buddy lined up. We all do better with support, and asking for help in itself makes your intentions a little more concrete, and brings you a little closer to making them real.
Regularity Creates Rhythm
When you do something regularly it creates a new rhythm in your life. Whether you choose do do something daily, weekly, or monthly, put in in your diary and make sure you turn up for it. Making intention into reality is simply about turning up, over and over, again and again. Having goals that are process oriented rather than outcome oriented makes this easier. If, for example, I said my first goal was to swim X number of lengths in X minutes by a certain date, this creates a certain pressure. Pressure can be a good thing, but I am more interested in seeing what comes from just making space for these things in my life. What will unfold?
I’ll leave you with one of my favourite poems, a perfect reminder for the new year that we are always capable of more, and that life is nothing if not change.
I would like to live
As a river flows
Carried by the surprise
Of its own unfolding
Wishing you all the best for a vibrant, surprising and wonderful 2018.